Written by Charisma Love B Gado


There are far memories worth recalling. They enkindle inspiration especially when the country is zealous in achieving its most elusive dream – to be rice-self-sufficient.

Old records attest that in 1789, Pampanga exported 28,307 piculs (some 34,000 cavans) of rice with the de facto opening of Manila’s port to world trade. More recently, through Green Revolution campaign, the country attained rice self-sufficiency in the mid-1970s.

Starting last year, a silent revolution, a movement, quietly seeped through the consciousness of different sectors of the society. Farmers, employees, athletes, and the youth had pledged to join the movement. They differ in so many respects, but they cling to one single commonality – they have insatiable appetite for rice in at least one meal a day.

Farmers shouldering the burden of rice self-sufficiency is already a changing perspective as National Year of Rice (NYR) 2013 calls for the help of consumers in providing more rice for Filipinos. PhilRice executive director, Eufemio T. Rasco Jr, explains, “Rice self-sufficiency is a function of production and consumption. If consumption exceeds production, then there is negative sufficiency. Otherwise, there’s surplus.”

The passion for garnering rice self-sufficiency was underscored anew during the annual celebration in November 2012 of the National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM). A pledge for rice, recited on Mondays by employees of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies, spiced up the month-long event.

NYR 2013, an advocacy campaign that enjoins producers, consumers, and policymakers to help increase rice productivity, reduce rice wastage, and promote healthier rice consumption, was launched throughout the country.

On behalf of President Benigno S. Aquino III, DA Sec. Proceso J. Alcala marked the launching in Luzon by unveiling the NYR logo at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija. NYR also encourages rice consumers to eat more of alternative staples such as banana, kamote, and corn as energy source and consume brown rice.

The NYR logo, which features the Philippine flag colors, symbolizes the nationalism embedded in the campaign. The colors also represent the producers, consumers, and policy makers who are the prime movers in increasing rice productivity and reducing rice wastage.

NYR was launched in the Visayas and Mindanao during the Foundation University’s Rice is Life Dumaguete Adventure Marathon and Mindanao-wide Week of Peace in Zamboanga City.

There are cynics who pillory our attempt to finally reach the elusive dream of sufficient rice. But like the spirited athlete drenched by rains while promoting healthy rice consumption, we remain steadfast in upholding our commitment to diversify energy sources, eat healthier form of rice, and conserve rice altogether.

Can we attain rice self-sufficiency? The gun shot signaling the more intensified effort to achieve the goal was already fired. The gun is still loaded. Let’s all keep running for the goal.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute